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2018 Edinburgh Fringe

Northwestern University School of Communication Dean Barbara O’Keefe and American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) Director David H. Bell hosted a reception Aug. 3 for the artistic team and students involved in the latest theatrical collaboration by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Northwestern. The collaboration received rave reviews.

Theatre Management Module and the Path to Leadership

The School of Communication’s modular curriculum is designed to give undergraduates a comprehensive and experiential pathway to their chosen careers. One module, time and again, stands out for its success with students—theatre management.

Annual Faculty Awards

The School of Communication on Monday awarded four faculty members its annual Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award and the Clarence Simon Awards for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring. The awards were distributed on June 4 at the yearly Honors Convocation ceremony in Norris University Center.

Music, Joy, and a Royal Wedding

The School of Communication’s E. Patrick Johnson, who has researched and participated in gospel choirs, explains its central role in making the recent royal wedding a captivating, unifying experience.

Award-Winning Filmmaker of “Welcome to the Dollhouse” Discusses His Films in the 35th Annual Van Zelst Lecture

The lessons of filmmaker Todd Solondz often hover around the concept of success: how to learn from it, how to capitalize on it, and how to embrace its curious timing. The writer/director/producer of such award-winning films as Welcome to the Dollhouse spoke on campus recently as the 35th Annual Van Zelst Lecturer—and he knew all his lines (read on for context).

Black Lives, Black Words Grows in Size and Scope in its Second Year

The second-annual on-campus showcase of the words of black student artists brought with it more new works, more conversation, and more Northwestern partners. “It’s my favorite event of the year,” said senior theatre major Allie Woodson; and it’s more necessary than ever.

Five-Time Emmy-Winning Producer Speaks About Career at EPICS Event

A series of video pieces about an underdog basketball team did more than just raise its profile — it raised Heidi Palarz’s. The School of Communication alumna returned to campus on February 7 to share with students tales of her willingness to work, her embrace of failure, and what it’s like to be the only woman in a male-dominated field.

Northwestern Theatre and Performance Studies Recognized for Excellence

Faculty, students, and alumni from the School of Communication’s Departments of Theatre and Performance Studies were well represented among the winners at 2017’s American Society for Theatre Research’s annual awards luncheon in Atlanta last month. The recognitions reflect Northwestern’s preeminence among educators in these fields.

Northwestern Clinicians Recommend the Best Toys to Give, and Why, This Holiday Season

At the holidays, it’s tempting to buy the flashiest toys popping up on retailers’ “hot lists,” but the experts recommend taking a different tack. The clinicians and researchers at the Northwestern University Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning held their second Toys to Talk About event, where they made suggestions of the best sorts of toys for kids across the developmental spectrum.

Comedy Central Producer and Alumnus Speaks to Students

He dabbled in theatre and watched a lot of TV; he showed enthusiasm and a willingness to take creative risks. He wrote. And wrote. And wrote. School of Communication alumnus and producing vet of such legendary comedy series as Chappelle’s Show and The Colbert Report shared with students his keys to making it in the world of comedy. Spoiler alert: there’s room for everyone.

One Lesson of the Wirtz Center Production of “Stellaluna”? Recycle and Repurpose

Stellaluna, the Wirtz Center’s family theatre production about a fruit bat’s forest adventures, intends to deliver a message beyond what is in the dialogue. Director and MFA candidate Caitlin Lowans set out to create Stellaluna in a sustainable way — using repurposed materials, recycled supplies, and an indefatigable zeal for creative challenges.

Disney Director and Alumnus Talks of his Animated Approach to Work

Northwestern alumnus and director of animated films John Musker remembers a guest speaker during his undergraduate years that changed the course of his career. Warner Bros’ legend Chuck Jones, addressing students, demonstrated how work as an animator meant a lifetime of continuous learning. Musker took this to heart, and his trajectory has been equally impressive. He shared his story with students on October 19.

Director Screens Acclaimed Civil Rights Documentary at Block Cinema

Raoul Peck, the Academy Award-nominated director of I Am Not Your Negro, was invited to campus this week as the 2018 Hoffman Visiting Filmmaker in Residence. Peck screened and discussed his film, which profiles the late writer and social critic James Baldwin, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art.

Academy Award-Nominated and Tony Winning Alumnus John Logan Speaks to Students

John Logan is the rare Hollywood figure to achieve success on multiple artistic fronts. A prolific writer who boasts a diverse body of work, Logan has penned blockbusters and cerebral plays alike. The Class of ’83 alumnus joined us last week and shared with students his take on writing, research, preparedness, and the power of hard work.

Academy Award-Winning Writer of Moonlight Visits Campus

Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the play on which the Academy Award-winning film Moonlight was based, was welcomed as a featured guest last week at the Black Arts International: Temporalities and Territories conference. He spoke to a packed house Friday, following the Thursday evening premiere of his play In the Red and Brown Water at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

Harvard Scholar Opens Black Arts Initiative Conference

Last week’s Black Arts International: Temporalities and Territories conference welcomed scholars, artists, performers, researchers and students to examine the black artistic experience through a global lens. The conference’s keynote speaker was Homi Bhabha, the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. Read more to learn about his enlightening talk that kicked off the week of events.

Tony Winners and Broadway Stars Return to Campus

Three School of Communication alumni returned to campus last week to celebrate their reunion and share with students their tales from the Great White Way. Heather Headley, Catherine Brunell, and Randy Meyer, all from the class of 1997, talked of touring, auditioning, landing a role, and losing a role, but never losing one’s appreciating of the journey.

Four SoC films to be shown at Chicago International Film Festival

Department of Radio/Television/Film associate professors Kyle Henry and J.P. Sniadecki, lecturer Stephen Cone, and MFA Documentary Media alumna Mina Fitzpatrick will each be screening films at the Chicago International Film Festival October 12 through 26. Henry’s film “Rogers Park” will premiere at the festival. Of the four films, two are shot in, and largely about, the city of Chicago.

The School of Communication Welcomes New Faculty for 2017-18

We welcome this academic year a crop of faculty members that are already bolstering our impressive ranks. Among the new faces are theatrical director Shana Cooper, computational journalism expert Nick Diakopoulos, and Jennifer Novak-Leonard, a leading researcher in the arts and creativity and the public’s participation in that realm.

And the Winner Is… Julia Louis-Dreyfus (and Northwestern)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Northwestern School of Communication alumna Julia Louis-Dreyfus logged a legendary win at the 69th Annual Emmy Awards. Not only did she earn her sixth consecutive Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy win, she is now tied with SoC alumna Cloris Leachman for overall wins by a female performer at eight apiece. The other big winner was hilarious host, alumnus Stephen Colbert, and the other talented alumni featured in the telecast. Read on for more details.

AMTP and The Fringe

The School of Communication’s American Music Theatre Project has joined forces with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to produce two original musicals for the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Donald G. Robertson Director in Music Theatre David Bell, alongside Northwestern students and alumni, collaborated with the famed European institution on two thematically linked shows about home, identity, ancestry, and war.

School of Communication Alumni Come Up Big with Emmy Nominations

Northwestern School of Communication alumni are well represented among this year’s crop of nominees: notable among them is record-setter Julia Louis-Dreyfus (C83, H07) and Stephen Colbert (C87, H11), who will be hosting this year’s awards show on September 17.

Northwestern Honors Blackhawks Chairman, Other Supporters at Wirtz Center Dedication

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, the School of Communication’s expansive, state-of-the-art theatrical complex, recently underwent a significant renovation that added two large blackbox spaces, dedicated rehearsal and performance rooms, design studios, and much more. The June dedication of the updated Wirtz Center was attended by benefactors including Rocky Wirtz (C75) and his wife Marilyn.

With Student Help, Alumna’s Radio Play Is Brought to Life

In the spring of 1944, Northwestern Theatre senior Agnes Nixon received devastating news, but it was what resulted that launched a legendary career. Last week, a group of students alongside her family traveled back in time to produce the script that changed her life — and celebrate a woman who meant so much to the University.

Northwestern Speech Team Enjoys a Banner Year

More than 20 years coming, the Northwestern University Speech Team had its best year yet. The team has climbed in rank, hosted a new tournament, boasted a Coach of the Year, and built up a program that is sure to see even more success in 2017-18 — all monumental achievements, especially given its size relative to other competitive universities.

“La La Land” Producer Discusses Career at Film Screening

It was an unlikely sell in film development circles — a sweeping original musical in the style of old Hollywood. Yet the dogged persistence of producer and Northwestern alumnus Jordan Horowitz paid off. The film in question, La La Land, was made, hit box office gold, and racked up numerous awards and nominations. Horowitz returned to campus on May 23 to screen his captivating film and participate in a post-show discussion moderated by Stephen Cone.

Late Night Comedy Writers (and Alumni) Slay During Panel Discussion

All due respect to Johnny Carson, but this is the golden age of late-night comedy. Satirists and comedians emerged as the arbiters of truth and reason during a trying political season, and continue to challenge and enlighten viewers — as well as those in power. Four big players in the late-night comedy game came to Evanston to delight a packed house with tales from the inside — and advice for how our students can find their way there.  

“Cameraperson” Screening Dives Less Into Camera, More Into Person

A career in documentary film yields many things: perspective, passport stamps, and footage. Acclaimed filmmaker Kirsten Johnson has much of all three, and given her decades of behind-the-camera-work, a surfeit of the latter — enough to craft an entirely new narrative centered on the beauty, chaos, sadness, and indomitability of the human experience. Johnson, the 2017 Hoffman Professor, screened her film Cameraperson on May 5 at the Block Museum.

Famed Filmmaker Sam Raimi Talks Blockbusters, Facing Fears, and the Art of the Unexpected

Filmmaker Sam Raimi didn’t like horror movies. His brother, though, convinced Raimi that they were the most affordable way to break into the industry Armed with a Super 8 camera and a compelling script, they created the cult hit Evil Dead. Raimi has spanned film and television genres with blockbusters (Spider-Man trilogy), neo-noir thrillers (A Simple Plan), westerns (The Quick and the Dead), and more. Raimi addressed a crowd at Northwestern as the 2016-2017 Wirtz Visiting Artist.

Northwestern Faculty and Alumni Remember Martha Lavey

Martha Lavey, who passed away April 25, was the legendary artistic director of Chicago’s groundbreaking Steppenwolf Theatre Company from 1995 to 2015. She was also a Northwestern alumna several times over and a proud recipient of a doctorate in the School of Communication’s Performance Studies program. Faculty and alumni reflect on her legacy, and how her time at Northwestern influenced her career.

Leader in the Field of Swallowing Disorders Reflects on Her Groundbreaking Career

It’s a function most people take for granted: the ability to eat, drink and swallow. Yet swallowing disorders (also known as dysphagia) are extraordinarily difficult conditions to live with — and diagnose. Bonnie Martin-Harris, Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor and the School of Communication’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, has spent her career working toward a standardized method of diagnosing and treating dysphagia. She explained her fascinating work at the 2017 Pepper Lecture.

RTVF Assistant Professor J.P. Sniadecki Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Prolific filmmaker, cultural anthropologist, and School of Communication assistant professor J.P. Sniadecki is part of the class of 2017 Guggenheim fellows, announced April 6. This prestigious honor makes him the sixth such fellowship recipient within the Department of Radio/Television/Film.

Northwestern Alumnus and Director Joe Chappelle Leads Class On Directing

School of Communication alumnus Joe Chappelle, director of such hit shows as The Wire, CSI Miami, and Chicago Fire, returned to campus to deliver a directing primer to eager undergraduate module-takers. Chappelle, who received his MFA from the Department of Radio/Television/Film, emphasized the importance of preparedness, amiability, and time management. Oh, and a grasp of the fundamentals certainly helps.

Leading Expert on Childhood Obesity Illustrates Power of Media in Promoting Healthy Habits

Amy Jordan, Dean O'Keefe, and five others pose for a picture at the Van Zelst Lecture in Communciation

Amy Jordan, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication associate dean for undergraduate studies, is a singularly accomplished expert in the field of childhood obesity, particularly among low-income families. Basing her research in Philadelphia, she has found that the media can both hurt and help children’s and caregivers’ abilities to make healthy choices — but her efforts have measurably helped, as she explained as this year’s Van Zelst lecturer.

Comedy Arts Module

A new addition to our innovative, immersive modular curriculum is most certainly a laughing matter. Through a focused, in-depth track, our students are harnessing the skills and savvy necessary in securing a career in comedy — and at a time in our post-truth culture when the combination of funny and smart is needed most.

International Dolphin Show

The undergraduate cast and management of the 75th Annual Dolphin Show will be taking their act on the road — and far. Through an exciting collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northwestern Students this month will be performing Little Shop of Horrors and leading workshops in five cities throughout the European country.

“Black Lives, Black Words” showcases diverse Northwestern voices

Northwestern this week hosted the 10-minuted play festival Black Lives, Black Words, a multi-city project that for the first time included a University partner. Students, coached by School of Communication faculty, shared poignant stories to prompt much-needed dialogues about race and young black lives in America.